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Oak Clearcutting

To Cut or Not to Cut


Thomas A. Davis
Division of Molecular and Life Sciences
Loras College


The topic of this debate case, developed for a course in “Issues in Environmental Biology,” is clear-cutting, a controversial method of harvesting and regenerating trees in which all trees are cleared from a site. Students debate the issue, assuming the roles of various stakeholders, including landowners, loggers, state foresters, soil conservation specialists, deer control specialists, and tree farm owners. After the debate, each student in the class must write an opinion paper on whether to clear-cut or not and give reasons that support their decision.


  • Diiscuss both sides of a contemporary environmental issue.
  • Understand how  science is involved in producing data and information that is vital to making a decision.
  • Write essay defending a position.
  • See how the scientific method, equipment, data, and its results are used to solve everyday environmental problems.
  • Interpret scientific data and apply it to understand and help solve an environmental problem.


Tree farming; clearcutting; clear cutting; timber; natural resource conservation; soil conservation; forest products; logging; deer management; white oak

Topical Areas

Scientific argumentation

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division



Type / Methods

Debate, Role-Play



Subject Headings

Natural Resource Management  |   Forestry  |   Environmental Science  |   Botany / Plant Science  |  

Date Posted


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